Thursday, October 22, 2009

What Do You Think I Fought For On Omaha Beach?

Meet 86-year-old Philip Spooner. He lives in Maine & is a veteran of World War II, and has 4 children. He gave testimony earlier this year at a hearing regarding marriage equality for same-sex couples in his home state. His words are sometimes difficult to hear & understand, but still, he speaks so clearly & eloquently on why it's wrong to deny to equality to all citizens. As Mr. Spooner explains, equality for ALL of his children & ALL Americans is why he put his life on the line for this great country all those years ago. Please give Mr. Spooner a listen...

Saturday, October 17, 2009


I am 17,167 days old.

Don't worry about doing the math; I'm 47 years old today. I am not sure what a 47 year old is supposed feel or act like, but I would wager that most people my age act considerably more maturely than I do...of course, I'm pretty sure that's always been true, no matter what age the calendar says I am. :-)

This will probably NOT surprise anyone who knows me, but on this minimally-auspicious occasion, my mind (such as it is) started rambling (I could tell it was rambling because the rusty gears in my head made such a loud clunking noise). I got to thinking about famous (or at least semi- to partially-famous) people in history that I've outlived now that I've reached this quasi-milestone. Through the magical series of tubes we call the Internets, I was able to find a list of some people of some interest to some other people who weren't fortunate enough to make it to the age of 47.

The following people (listed alphabetically) died at age 46:

Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, American silent film actor
Ted Cassidy, American actor and voice actor, best known for playing the part of "Lurch" on the TV series, "The Addams Family"
Pierre Curie, French physicist and husband of Madam Curie
Perry Ellis, American fashion designer
John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States
T.E. Lawrence, British military officer and author
H.P. Lovecraft, American author of horror, fantasy and science fiction
Carmen Miranda, 50's Brazilian samba singer and actress
George Orwell, British novelist and journalist, author of the book, "1948"
Paul I of Russia, Emperor of Russia (1796-1801)
Howard Rollins, American actor (starred in the film,"Ragtime" & the TV Series, "In the Heat of the Night")
André René Roussimoff, Professional Wrestler, best known as "André The Giant"
Oscar Wilde, Irish playwright, poet and author

I found the foregoing relatively interesting, and--though 20 years ago, I saw things a bit differently--now that I've made it, 47 doesn't really sound old at all.

Still...I think it might behoove me to start thinking about my age in terms of dog years...which means I'm not even 7 years old yet! ;-)

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Beauty of Beyoncé

Musically-speaking, I cannot get enough of Beyoncé Knowles. She has such an amazing voice, but from what I've seen, her voice cannot rival her beautiful, amazing heart. As a non-music critic, but a fan of all kinds of music, I feel it safe to say that if our Ms. Knowles is not a musical superstar, she is certainly on the cusp of being so.

I mention this because I am sure that anyone who follows music at all knows what happened at the MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) recently. 19-year-old Taylor Swift beat out 28-year-old Beyoncé for Best Female Video for Taylor's video for her song You Belong With Me. Beyoncé's video for her song,Single Lady (Put A Ring On It), is as awesome as you would expect one her videos to be, but--alas--she lost fairly & squarely to Taylor Swift, and, as they say, to the winner goes the spoils...except that Taylor's spoils were spoiled by Kanye West, who took it upon himself to walk up on stage & take the microphone from the winner of the award & proceeded to talk about how wonderful Beyoncé's video is. In one aspect, I agree with Kanye: Beyoncé is a huge talent, but the rest of it was embarrassing, not just for Taylor, but for Kanye, who acted like a child--or, worse yet--like those screamers at this summer's town hall meetings about Health Care.

Kanye West had nothing at all to do with this award (it's certainly not like he was nominated for anything in this category), but he felt that his thoughts on the subject were more important than what the actual winner of the award had to say.

I may be oversimplifying things, but that's how I see what happened.

The story had a happy ending though when Beyoncé invariably won an award & recalled how wonderful it was when she had won her first VMA, and asked Taylor Swift to come out & speak so she could REALLY enjoy her moment in the spotlight. Beyoncé gave up her own time, so this new young artist could fully experience the thrill of earning such a prestigious award.

In that one act of kindness, Beyoncé proved that not only does she have a beautiful voice, but a beautiful heart, too! As far as I'm concerned, that makes her not only a winner in music & video, but, far more importantly, a winner in life.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

On Faith

When I look back on my faith walk thus far, I can remember so much that very nearly destroyed me. I remember feeling so alone sometimes, and so worthless. My experience in Christianity has not been easy & I've had so many reasons & so many chances to just give up & get out, but--somehow--I couldn't.

I still struggle every day to "keep the faith" when there are still so many out there who are so sure that I am not "one of them" & that I cannot share their God with them unless I change everything about myself that they don't like.

I have thought through all these years about how much easier it probably would have been had God made me heterosexual, or had I left their little club once it became evident that there was no place for me in Christianity, or had I never even known about God in the first place. Like any of us humans, I would have preferred a much easier life (faith-wise) than the one I have actually lived, but (as the old saying goes) you have to play the cards that life deals you.

I'm sure that I could have "played my hand" better than I did, but I now know that everything happens for a reason, even if we don't know that reason is right now. In the midst of the hurricane, it's hard to think about the light of the sunny day that always comes afterward.

So, while it would be tempting to wish I could wipe away all those memories & all those tears, and while I have not always felt this way, I can now honestly tell you that--as heavy as my burden has been, and as lonely as I have felt in my life--I wouldn't change a thing. Not one. It was part of God's plan for my life, and I can even say now that I am even thankful for how things have turned out in my faith walk.

I'm not saying that my life has been any harder than anyone else's; we all have our own trials & our own burdens. As Olivia Newton-John sang in Grease: Guess mine is not the first heart broken; my eyes are not the first to cry.... When I look back & see all I've endured & when I remember nearly every hurt "the Church" has caused me, I see now how it's all gone to making me more sure of my faith, and more steely in my resolve that I am a child of God, albeit an imperfect, still-hurting child of God. I have had what has felt like many baptisms of fire since my baptism in the water all those years ago, and I know that it is those fires through which God has brought me that allows me to understand that faith is never easy, and true faith can never be taken away; if it is lost, it has been given away.

In so many ways, I have earned my deep faith, but I know that faith is not like a trophy: you don't find it & then place it up on a shelf. Faith is something that becomes a living part of your being & it is something to which you must tend every day, and it is that thing inside the truest part of you that motivates you to keep on going even when you don't feel like you can.

Had the events of my life gone at all differently, and had my walk been a little less rocky, and had I collected any fewer scars on my heart, who knows where I'd be right now? There's no telling, and really, no sense in dwelling on what might have been.

But I can tell you that the freedom I feel today comes from that faith that I just couldn't seem to shake, forged by fire, and earned through a river of tears & a world of pain. Though they toiled mightily to do so, not even the most self-righteous Christian soldiers, Bibles clutched in their hands & raised to the Heavens as the preferred weapons of choice, hearts & eyes filled with the lust of spiritual war-without-end could take my faith or my God from me.

I am not naive in this: they stand constantly at the ready to fight on & on & on, and I know they will always try, but I also know that they will always fail.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Girl Power!

Females just don't tickle my fancy (romantically-speaking).

Coming from a gay man, that may not sound all that surprising, I know.

Truth is, though, that I really do love women. I always tell my friends that I actually love women in every way but one. I'm sure if you think about it, you'll get my meaning! ;-)

Anyway, I saw a commercial today for Dove (you know, the company that makes soap, etc.), but it wasn't trying to sell any specific kind of soap or any new product. It was explaining about Dove's commitment to helping ensure that today's girls become tomorrow's strong, independent women by trying to help re-define beauty, and helping girls understand how unique & how powerful they can be.

Though "living" in the closet was a horrible, devastating experience that I would never wish on ANYONE, I personally never knew a time in my life (even during those darkest of days) when I wondered if I might actually be heterosexual. I have always been attracted to the male of the species, and I never had fake dates with females to try to throw people off my track. I like to think that, somewhere in the back of my mind, I not only didn't want to make some kind of show for "the world", I also didn't want to lead on a girl who might have thought I was interested in her. It was bad enough involving myself in my lie of a life, much less dragging someone else into it.

So, while it's true that I have never had and could never have romantic feelings for women, I have always admired them, and found them (at least the ones that have crossed my life's path) to be strong people (not necessarily physically, but emotionally & spiritually) and fiercely loyal friends. I can genuinely tell you without hesitation and without a single doubt that my life is so much fuller & happier today because of the women in my life who have stood by me and who have reached out to help lift me up every time I've fallen. I can't help but respect, admire, and even love the most honorable sense of all those words.

Watching the Dove commercial today, I was reminded that strong, confident women start out as young, impressionable girls, and that all of us (gay, straight, bi, asexual, pansexual...however you identify yourself) owe it to these girls to do our parts to make sure they know that they are just as valued, just as important & just as capable as boys. No doubt there are differences between boys & girls, that's just how life is, but I personally don't want to do to anyone else what I did to myself & begin a life concentrating on all the things you can't do or can't be. Girls AND boys need to know that they only limitations to their success in life is how big they can dream & how hard they're willing to work for what they want.

Getting back to my main point for this post, Dove explains on its website that:

The Dove Self-Esteem Fund was developed to help free the next generation from self-limiting beauty stereotypes. Committed to reaching 5 million young women by the end of 2010, we invite you to play a role in supporting and promoting a wider definition of beauty.

Until Dec. 15, 2009, if you buy any Dove product, you can visit Dove's website, enter the UPC from the package, and Dove will donate $1 to your choice of either the Girl Scouts, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, or Girls Inc., up to a maximum of half a million dollars! Dove does ask your name & address & they are limiting the donation to 1 per household, but it's a great way to support some great causes, and help start creating strong, powerful women who know their own value.

As the great Pink song goes, Respect is just a minimum, come on girl, and get you some...